Principles of ventilation
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Ventilation is the planned removal heat, smoke and fire gases from a burning structure - this in effect supplies cool fresh air. Ventilation in a large fire should happen as or before the interior rescue crews enter the building.
The benefits of ventilation include:
- Improved visibility - helps with the finding and rescue of victims,
- Less chance of disorientation inside the smoke filled building.
- Reduced temperatures at the scene
- Reduced possibility of backdraft or flashover (reduces the spread of fire)
- Safer conditions
- Better chance of victim survival:
- More easily located,
- Lower temperatures,
- Lower risk of smoke inhalation.
Ventilating the fire
Ventilation should take place at the highest point near the burning side of the building. In a single story house, open or remove the windows in the room where the fire is burning. Ventilation may be :
- vertical - opening through the roof,
- Horizontal - opening of door and windows.
Fires and firefighting is dangerous and we need to be aware of the risks.
- Always wear the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) and SCBA.
- Be aware of the possibility of smoke and flashback so work with the wind at your back or side when cutting vent holes or venting windows
- Vertical ventilation: Check roof stability and only have the minimum personnel on the roof. Always work from a roof ladder on a pitched roof. and have a secondary escape route from the roof. Remove crew from roof after ventilation hole is completed.
- Be ready to fight the fire - the ventilation supplies fresh oxygen to the fire and can lead to fire spread.